Rose asks: “My boyfriend and I (I am 21 and he is 23) have been together for over a year now and generally I would describe our relationship as great. He is loving, caring and we both have a lot of fun together. We have been living together for 3 months now.

However, the problem I am having at the moment is, I believe, more to do with me than him. He has alot of female friends, more so than male friends, and I can’t help but feel the pangs of jealousy. I feel that his female friends are also more attractive than me, and I worry that they have more in common with my boyfriend then I do.

I have no reason to suspect he’s cheating on me, and I am confident that he respects me enough that he never would. However, whenever he occasionally goes out to see female friends of his, I start to worry and I start to get paranoid, enough to the extent that I start to really feel down about myself.

The thing I am most worried about is that one day he is going to meet someone, or one of his ‘friends’ who eventually he finds to ‘like’ more than me, and fall in love with them. When he goes to meet his female friends to catch up, I start to feel jealous and I can’t help but imagine him with them (or even a fantasy ‘other girl’ of my own making) who he ‘fits’ with more than me. (For example, he is very much into tattoos and piercings, whereas I am not – I worry he will meet a girl thats has tattoos and piercings, and who also is more intelligent, attractive etc than me).

He knows that I have a slight jealous streak and do get insecure every so often, and he has always reassured me that he loves me and tells me I have lots of good points.

When I do get jealous, to an extent I DO know it’s irrational, so I do not always voice my concerns. I’ve also never stopped him seeing his female friends. However, I am not sure how I can start feeling more secure in myself.

I also wonder whether these are natural feelings to have. Doesn’t everyone get jealous here and there? I just get so scared I am going to lose him sometimes, to the point where I feel like I am holding back, and to the point where I hate myself.

Do you have any advice?”

NML says: This is mostly about your own feelings of inadequacy as opposed to anything that he is doing other than having a lot of female friends. What I will say is that if he is the type that likes to have a lot of female friends, you will have to learn to control your jealousy or the relationship won’t work.

On the surface it appears that you are jealous…and this is partially correct but actually you’re insecure because I don’t think that you believe that you deserve to be with your boyfriend, so you think that he’s a hop, skip, and a jump away from being snapped up by someone prettier, with more tattoos, or with more intelligence.

The questions you should be asking yourself is:

Why don’t you believe that you are good enough for your boyfriend?

Why do you believe that your relationship or him for that matter, are so fragile that some other girl can pop up and snatch your man away?

You need to dig below the surface of your supposed jealousy and tackle what it is that makes you feel inadequate because it’s not him per se; it’s what you believe about yourself and if you don’t believe you deserve the guy and the relationship, you will find subconscious ways like sitting at home fantasising about what he is doing with his female friends, to sabotage your relationship.

You are right that everyone has their jealous moments but it has to be occasional rather than on the regular. Feeling habitually jealous or insecure for that matter shouldn’t be part of your daily relationship repertoire and if you don’t start dealing with your insecurity and having more faith in yourself, him, and your relationship, your relationship will struggle, if not fail.

You need to trust him and your relationship because having a boyfriend with female friends means that you have to have absolute faith and trust in your relationship.

Get to know his friends so that they don’t remain these mysterious tattoo covered,  exciting women. Does he ever invite you along or have you been introduced?

Remember, there is a reason that he is with you and living with you, and not them. He clearly finds you attractive and finds qualities and characteristics that make you his girlfriend not his friend. Not all friends make great girlfriends!

If tattoos and piercings were a determining factor, you wouldn’t stand a chance. If you’re having fun and living together, clearly you have a lot in common and to be honest, I think you are looking for problems to create in your relationship.

Hating yourself as a result of your jealousy and inadequacy and being scared of losing him is about fear of abandonment.

Obviously I don’t know your background but fear of abandonment is often tied to something in our past, often childhood. What you need to be careful of is choosing men that exacerbate that fear of abandonment with their behaviour. You also need to be careful of creating situations to bring about the demise of the relationship in a self-fulfiilling prophecy.

All of this based on him ‘occasionally’ going out with his female friends – it’s too much!

It’s a very disproportionate response and if he hangs with them occasionally and you have him for the majority, I don’t see what there is to worry about. You say he’s respecting you, caring etc so I would save your jealous and insecure energy for the evidence based stuff – when your man is actually behaving in a way that is disrespectful to you.

Emotionally unavailable men (Mr Unavailables) for instance, love having lots of female friends or what we call a Narcissistic Harem – a constant shower of female attention and ego stroking that tends to get in the way of conducting a healthy relationship with a significant other. I don’t think that this is your guy.

Some people are jealous due to internal fears (you) or external fears (when he is actually doing something) or a mixture of both.

Reacting to internal fears and letting them take hold will effectively create a situation where you are having a relationship with your fears rather than with him. I doubt that you want this.

Identify what your triggers are for being afraid of abandonment and assess whether you can put a rational perspective on your fears and confront and deal with them, and if you are struggling to do this on your own, it would be wise to spend some time with a counsellor because fear of abandonment tied in with the inadequacy can have a devastating long-term effect, and what concerns me is that we tend to choose men that reflect the negative feelings we have about ourselves.

In this instance you may be in that situation where you are actually with a great guy and just can’t appreciate it because you have nothing negative to say about him.

If in doubt, whenever you think of something jealous and insecure, shut it off and replace it with something positive about your relationship.

Remember that while your boyfriend may be patient now and even reassuring, if you don’t believe in you, nothing he says is going to make a blind bit of difference, so get positive before you derail your relationship.

Don’t sell yourself short or effectively ‘pitch’ the wonderful qualities that you think his female friends have, to him and yourself. Unless any of these women are actually man stealers or hating on you, I don’t think you need to worry about what they do or do not have. You need to focus on enjoying him and what you have, and also recognising that you bring lots of value to your relationship and haven’t just struck it lucky or got him on loan until one of his friends makes a successful snatch and grab.

Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to ‘please’ or protect yourself from others? My book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon), is out now.

The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.
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